Why Korean Professors Stay Put
In the U.S. many academic economists are constantly looking for jobs at other schools, hoping to get large salary increases either in the new job or at their current one, to move to a more desirable location, or have better students. And a lot of them do move — one senior professor I know has held tenured positions at 8 different schools!
Talking with the department chair at the Korean university where I’m visiting, it’s clear this doesn’t happen in Korea.
Korean professors’ salaries are very similar, so it’s hard to get a raise by threatening to leave. Also, all the universities are in Seoul, so the living conditions are independent of where you’re employed. The only gains to moving come from having better students or being at a more prestigious institution. These matter — he cited an example of a colleague who left for this reason — but the examples are few.
Perhaps not surprisingly, in the fluid U.S. labor market, pay differences across employers have a big effect on mobility even — or perhaps especially — among economists.